I was only five when Run DMC dropped Raising Hell back in ’86 and all I knew was one thing, I wanted “My Adidas.” Rocking my white shell-toes with no laces would make me the flyest 5-year-old on my block – hands down.
Fast forward 26 years later and the popular shoe brand is making headlines once again after famed fashion designer Jeremy Scott created the JS Roundhouse Mid, a high-top sneaker with orange plastic shackles. These shoes caused a wave of controversy, as many are saying the shackles too closely resemble a symbol of slavery.
The shoe has since been scrapped by Adidas and the iconic brand released a statement:
“The sneaker is nothing more than the designer Jeremy Scott’s outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery…We apologize if people are offended by the design and we are withdrawing our plans to make them available in the marketplace.”
Apparently the sneaker was inspired by the 1980s furry doll called My Pet Monster, which was first made in 1986, coincidentally.
As Scott explained when asked about the controversial sneaker:
“My work has always been inspired by cartoons, toys & my childhood.”
Whether the shoe has a racial overtone isn’t the point, it’s the perception the shackles represent, stemming from a section of our history that we don’t like to talk about.
I doubt that Adidas and Scott wanted to offend people, but the fact remains that many will have knee-jerk reactions to anything that even resembles racism.
It wasn’t racist and wasn’t intended to be, but sadly, it came off that way.
But I have no beef with Adidas either, but I do think it was a poor judgment call on their part. After all, they just want to make their products without agitation, but it also speaks to how many of these million dollar companies continue to offend hip-hop when the culture has been so imperative to helping out their profit margin.
When Run DMC dropped “My Adidas,” it led to the group signing a multi-million endorsement deal with the apparel brand, forever forming a long-term relationship with the Queens, NY group and hip-hop.
You shouldn’t offend people who support and buy your product, whether it was through poor judgment or a misunderstanding.
Case in point:
As Cristal champagne became the brand of choice in hip-hop during the early 2000s, with every artist touting the bubbly in their songs, the executive director of the company made condescending and belittling remarks about rappers publicizing his beverage.
As a result, Jay-Z vowed he would never drink it again:
“I would never drink Cristal or promote it in any way or serve it at my clubs ever again,” he said. “I felt like this was the bullshit I’d been dealing with forever, this kind of offhanded, patronizing disrespect for the culture of hip-hop.”
After Jay made that statement, not only did other artists follow suit in boycotting the popular brand, but many have gone on to create their own signature liquors and drinks. In fact, liquor companies are embracing hip-hop more than ever, as many of the top brands feature rappers and singers in their advertisements.
Unfortunately, Adidas is in the same vein of disrespect as Cristal. They need to remember that 26 years ago, the biggest hip-hop group of all time made their brand what it is today.
Shaka Griffith is the News/Politics Editor of GlobalGrind.com Follow him on Twitter @Darealshaka